Book Review: CHILLING EFFECT by Valerie Valdes

Title in white on black next to woman and cats in spacesuits
Genre: Sci-Fi
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: yes - first book in series


Book cover for CHILLING EFFECT: title in white below a woman anc cats in space suite falling out of a ship with boxes over a purple planet

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


As the cover and tag line (Kidnappers. Alien Emperors. Psychic Cats. And she’s out of coffee) imply, CHILLING EFFECT is a pretty bonkers story. The situations that Eva finds herself in are just bizarre-in-a-very-laughable way. It’s one of those books that basically decides that, as you’re already having to suspend disbelief about the aliens and spaceships, you might as well go the whole way and toss a sex-obsessed emperor hell bent on capturing Eva for his harem into the mix. (In an interview, Valdes has said that character was written partly in response to the pushback after #MeToo.)

It’s got a quirky feel to it, like the author’s just having a ball of a time coming up with the world and the situations, tossing all sorts of inspirations in to the mix and seeing what comes out.I can swing either way with those sorts of books, depending on whether they make me laugh more than I roll my eyes at how OTT it all gets.

I did bounce a little between the two on this, but mostly stayed on the side of “it’s a wild ride and let’s just see where it gets us”, which helped a lot for this book. There were a few points, particularly at the ending, where I just had to roll with the story.

There is a bit of an episodic feel to the book. There are various missions at the start, which cover a chapter or two. Then there is an event around the 300 page mark which rather throws everything off course and shakes the book up a fair bit. It took me a little bit to get used to it as I’d found the new circumstance a little jarring.

I’m not sure how many books are in this series. There is certainly at least one sequel (the last year has thrown a lot of publishing schedules off, so trying to guess if B2 is the end of not is a bit hard at the moment!), and I will certainly be reading it at some point.

Read my reviews of other books by Valerie Valdes:

Chilling Effect (this series):

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